First Published: The Call,
January 23rd 1919
Transcription\HTML Markup: Revolutionary Communist Group, 30 March 1998 and David Walters in 2003
Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive (www.marx.org)1999, 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
We witness today what all Marxists naturally expected, the capitalist class of the world and their Governments joined together in a most vigorously active attempt to crush Bolshevism in Russia and Spartacism in Germany. Bolshevism, by the way, is Socialism triumphant, and Spartacism is Socialism in process of achieving triumph. This is the class war on an international basis, a Class War that must and will be fought out to the logical conclusion—the extinction of capitalism everywhere.
The question for us in Britain is how we must act in playing our part in this world conflict. Some are suggesting a General Strike to enforce a withdrawal of British troops from Russia and, I suppose, from Germany as well. That, to some of us on the Clyde, is too idealistic. Were the mass of the workers in Britain Revolutionary Socialists they would at once see that their material well-being depended on the peaceful development of Bolshevism in Russia and would, in consequence, strike for the withdrawal of British forces, at the moment attempting the downfall of Russia’s Social Democracy. But the workers are not generally of our way of thinking, and so are unable to see that their material interests are bound up with Bolshevist stability in Russia. It necessarily follows that we will have no success in urging a strike on this issue especially, as the Government has the majority of Trade Union leaders in the hollow of its hand, and can easily manipulate them against us—with comparative safety to the leaders at that.
Some of us on the Clyde, therefore, think that we must adopt another line, and that is to save Russia by developing a revolution in Britain no later than this year. We socialists know that the capitalists can only realise their profits by selling a great part of their goods abroad. We know that America is in exactly the same predicament as Britain, and we further know that America intends to assume the economic position in the world that Germany has just failed to attain. If it is true, as well-informed commercial papers assert, that in 1918 America built more ship-tons than Britain, we may take it that America is in a position to lick Britain in the ‘navy race’.
In five years time such will be the glut of goods on the market that fear of revolution through unemployment and hunger may force these two powers into war. If capitalism lasts, then war is inevitable in five years; yes, and a war bloodier than the present war. Humanity is in a very tight corner, and so those who will be called on to kill in the next war will have to make up their minds whether they will accept the present wage-slavery with its murderous consequences or fight capitalism to death this year. The saving of one’s life calls forth great exertion and it must be our business too see that the exertion is scientifically directed towards Social Democracy.